Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 15:24:00 +0000
From: Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]BAYLOR.EDU
Subject: Re: "race"
i haven't been paying a lot of attention to the 'race' conversation,
although i should have been doing just that (as i've done a bit of
writing on the subject and will likely do more before someone decides to
stop me). so, i hope i don't repeat what's been said already but here
are a bunch of vaguely related thoughts on the topic:
1. stephen jay gould has some very accessible arguments against racial
classification on any kind of biological basis, especially in his book
_the mismeasure of man_.
2. one thing that argues against the existence of biological races is
the fact that there is more genetic variation within races than across
them, which is to say that any member of one 'race' probably has more in
common (genetically speaking) with the average characteristics of
another 'race' than with any other individual in her/his own 'race'.
3. similarly, some of the things that are seen as 'markers' of 'races'
are actually found only partially in some 'races' and often across
'races'. for instance, whites have prominent noses, but you could
probably find some prominent nosed black africans as well. a better
example: sickle cell anemia is considered to be a "negroid" disease,
but the gene for it is not found in the xhosa people of south africa
(nelson mandela's ethnic group) but it IS found in many mediterranean
4. many, if not most, anthropologists (the people who brought us 'race'
as a science--or at least their precursors did) today do not believe
that human races exist. cultural anthropologists, not surprisingly, are
much less inclined to believe in 'race' than physical anthropologists.
sorry, i don't have the exact figures, but work on anthropologists'
views on race has been published in several places by reynolds and
lieberman (and by one or the other alone as well--can't think of their
first names either--my books and files are still not here from my move
back to work; thanks for the break.
M. Lynne Murphy
Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English
PO Box 97404
Waco, TX 76798